Have you ever tried to unwrap a rhino? Neither had we until today.One of the stranger Zoo deliveries for the week was six rhinos cocooned in bubble wrap and protective cardboard boxes.
On arrival, they caused quite a bit of confusion. The delivery man was sure he needed to take them to our storage warehouse, but our backyard staff (the guys who do all the heavy lifting and receive delivery of big parcels) were positive he had to take them to our Wildlife Hospital’s Quarantine Unit.
They’d come in from overseas, and like any animals they would need to complete their quarantine period...right? But more importantly, did the vets and zoo keepers know they were coming?
The packaging definitely said: “rhinoceros big”, but they didn’t seem to be wriggling or making any noise.
It soon became clear that the rhinos were the first of our statue herd of 75 life-size fibreglass rhinoceros sculptures to be delivered to the Zoo by Spring.
Unwrapping the rhinos was like playing a massive game of pass the parcel. There were so many layers protecting the sculptures. Once clear of their wrapping, they stood in all their glistening white glory, a blank rhinoceros canvas which will be turned into a wild kaleidoscope of colour as part of our Taronga Wild! Rhinos art project.
Soon artists, schools and community groups will put their creative juices to the test and decorate the rhinos, before they visit various places around Sydney. They’ll also help create a rhinoceros corridor to our sister Zoo at Dubbo where we breed Black Rhinos and White Rhinoceros to help safeguard the species from extinction. In fact, just last week, we had little male White Rhino calf born, which looks exactly like the baby statues, except with larger feet!
At the end of the exhibition, the artworks will be auctioned off to help real rhinoceros, and sadly, they need all the help they can get.
In 2012, one rhinoceros was killed in South Africa every 13 hours. This year, over 300 rhinos have already been killed to satisfy the illegal demand for their horn. Researchers are predicting if the insatiable demand continues, poaching will outstrip rhinoceros births by ?? 2015?? 2016, sending some species to extinction.
If you want to paint a rhino and help this majestic creature, check out our website to find out how you can get involved and turn it into a wild piece of artwork. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure the postman knows you’re not receiving a real rhinoceros!
Taronga Zoo, Media Relations
(02) 9978 4606
Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Media Relations
(02) 6881 1400
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